After 2 years locked away in storage… The EvolutionM Project Evo is out and ready to play once again. Stay tuned for the article…
Being a car guy, I felt that I needed to take my passion to another level by learning more about the automobile’s past as well as the history of motorsports. My first book into this journey is A.J. Baime’s book, Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans.
Every car enthusiast knows or should know about the heated battle between Ferrari and Ford. The book starts by talking about the background story of each man behind the name of the manufacture, Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II. Both were determined men and set out amazing goals for their company to accomplish to be best in the world. Ferrari’s story is one of extreme hardship and dedication that seems to be a rarity in today’s world and Ford’s is a story of perseverance and innovation that led the car company to success in that time.
The book also talks about Carol Shelby, John Surtees, Phil Hill, Bruce McLaren, Ken Miles, and Iacocca, and how each of them played vital roles in the history of motorsports. I found myself never wanting to put the book down and was always engaged with interesting facts that were never known to me.
As a car enthusiast, I would say this book gets a thumbs up and should be on your read list
Being a diehard porschefile, I’ve always questioned if the 996 or 997 could really be called a true 911. By now all you 996/997 owners have let out a big grown, but don’t judge this post as a bash. Being a previous owner of the 996 myself, I have to admit my experience wasn’t the greatest. It could be the model year (2001), but things like the interior falling apart, front end wander at high speed, and many other problems really killed the experience. On the pro side, the car had power. But is power everything?
After I sold my 996, I was a bit disappointed that my experience wasn’t fulfilling enough. Based on that, I decided to start a quest on finding the ultimate 911 because I didn’t want the 996 to be my last memory of a 911. Fortunately I was able to gain access to a 993 and a 997 to really figure out if newer is better or tried and true was the way to go.
993 vs 997
I have to say the 997 is far better than the 996 in many different ways. Performance, quality, and looks are much improved on the 997. The one issue I have with the 997 is the overall size and weight of the car. Rather than a nimble sports car, I felt like I was in a heavy powerful tank that could get around corners very fast. Overall the 997 felt much like I would imagine a 911 would , especially over the 996. With all the modern conveniences it did at times feel more like a GT car rather than a true sports car. I would images the GT3 and RS would be much different, but since we are only comparing standard models, the upper range models don’t apply.
The 993 on the other hand is a completely different story. Much smaller in size and weight, the 993 feels like the 911 I dreamt of in my head. Very simple interior, quality construction, awesome handling, and reasonable power made me feel that I was in a true sports car. Compared to the 997, the 993 left it to the driver to get it around obstacles and rewarded you if you did it right. Unfortunately it did have an ugly side if you got it wrong, but don’t all 911’s in some way have this problem?
Okay so fast forwarding to the point of this post, are the older 911’s better than the newer generations? My answer after driving a 993, is yes, but you may feel different. What are your thoughts?
First let me say I’m pretty proud that I actually committed to reading each book in my collection and not doom them to a life of dust collection. My first choice: “The Naked Entrepreneur“, written by Troy Hazard and Maria Elita. Being an entrepreneur myself, I love reading about experiences that others go through when starting a business, running a business, or just running themselves in general. It makes me feel that I’m not alone in the world. The focus of this book is to look into yourself and to be more real.
The setup of the book is different than most other books I’ve read. The story is about Troy’s journey in finding himself through a hectic life and how Maria guides him to truly find himself.. Each chapter is setup to document Troy’s self journey from his point of view with a wrap up of Maria’s point of view as she interacts with Troy and manages her own life. Two worlds colliding. Like many entrepreneurs Troy got to the point where he worked himself to near meltdown . The stress not only cost him his relationships with others but also impacted who he was as a person.
This was a story I could relate to. It’s very easy to get caught up in business and life issues. One thing I did notice was how much I stressed over situations I had no control over. An example would be signing on new clients. As a growing business all I want are new clients to grow the company. One thing that always stressed me out was towards the end of any new business deal, whether the client will go with us or someone else. After reading this book, I realized that certain situations like my example are totally out of my control and should learn to surrender to that. By surrendering, I learn to move on to the next deal. The other nugget I learned was how I put such importance on money and materials, instead of enjoying life and people around me. I was ingrained to define success by meaningless possessions and of course cash, instead of counting quality of family, friends, and the simple things in life.
For any entrepreneur looking to be more real with themselves instead of living in fear (stress), pick up a copy of the “The Naked Entrepreneur“.
DISCLAIMER: You have to be ready to accept the fact you need help and open your mind before you read this book, otherwise you will think it is BS.
It’s been a while since my last post and since i have a few moments…
Today was an unusually warm day for November, so I decided to wash my M3 before its winter hibernation. For every car enthusiast, there is a certain amount of car wash gear needed to correctly wash your pride and joy. After hauling out everything on the front lawn, I pulled the car up to position and got to work.
In the distance I heard faint noise… it sounded like a wrench turning. As a car guy, a wrench turning is music to our ears and being curious I looked around to find the source. Low and behold, it’s a neighbor changing the oil on his wife’s Toyota. Doesn’t sound like anything strange, but my neighborhood is filled with full time professionals who don’t seem to do any manual labor. It got me to think why would this guy be changing his own oil?
With a manual in one hand and a set of what looked like a brand new Sears “mechanic’s tool” set, the neighbor looked seemed to try his best to finish the task at hand. I never thought this deep before when it came to oil changes, let alone someone else doing their own oil changes. But I guess I started to think, is this the result of a bad economy? Or was this the birth of a new car enthusiast joining our population?
In any case, probably too deep of a thought to stop washing my car. Back to work…
We’ve all seen the insanity of Ken Block’s YouTube videos where he’s blasting his car sideways through an airfield obstacle course coming to near collisions with random objects. Most can’t believe what they are seeing is real. The truth is even with great movie editing; Ken Block has amazing car control skills.
As a road racer, my experience with car control has been on wet skid pads and scary situations on track, which usually ends with a mild heart attack. “Happens to everyone”, I’m told, “that’s how you learn”, but that didn’t seem right. How do you learn to fix a problem that isn’t experienced often? Being obsessed with perfecting my own driving ability, I reached out to seasoned race veterans and other weekend track warriors for the answer to my car control problem.
After a week’s worth of researching, the solution was simple, go to rally school. No other racing school on earth can provide an environment of changing grip levels and encouragement to go as fast as possible, while maintaining some level of control. Mud drifting as some rally enthusiasts called it, was the solution to the car control issue. The best place to learn? Team O’Neal Rally School. If it’s good enough for Ken Block, then it’s good enough for me!
Nestled in the middle of nowhere aka Dalton, New Hampshire, is where you’ll find Team O’Neal Rally School. Almost like finding a tiny needle in a large haystack, the school is buried within a maze of gravel roads and heavy tree cover on top a mountain. In fact the school is so difficult to find that one of their instructors, Wyatt, had to meet us at the Hampton Inn located within town to guide us to campus on the very first day.
Once on school grounds, you are thrown back at the enormous size of the property. A majestic site containing beat up Audi Quattros, VW Jettas, VW GTI’s, and Subaru’s that litter one side of the property while on the other side are the various courses chiseled through the tall thick trees.
To greet our very enthusiastic class is our lead instructor, Chuck. With a direct no BS approach, Chuck our ex-military tobacco-chewing bear of a lead instructor, gives the class the 411 on what to expect during the next 4 days. The best phrase to sum it all up, “Pay Attention”. Obvious right? That’s what I thought too…
Day 1 – Steering With Brakes
On day 1 we kicked off the day with a morning classroom followed by in-car time. The school tries to minimize classroom sessions, so students spend majority of the day in-car. Classroom discussions during the first day were about vehicle dynamics, the principles of left foot braking, and any questions we had during our in-car time. Our in-car sessions were in FWD VW Jettas and GTI’s, with the purpose to learn left foot braking while coordinating steering and throttle to control the car through a slalom of mud and orange cones. And if that wasn’t enough, improving reaction times and looking ahead to keep the car out of the ditch. With each in-car session the instructors put us through various drills (late apexing, threshold braking, and brake & avoid) to help burn in the techniques learned in class. With majority of the student cars spinning around or needing a tow rescue, day 1 was proving to be challenging for everyone. Luckily we had an abundance of time to get enough runs in. By the end of the day, I was left foot braking subconsciously all the way back to my hotel.
Day 2 – Steering with Throttle & Brake Anticipation, Compensation, and Timing
Highlight of Day 2, learning how to Pendulum Turn. Honestly who wouldn’t want to learn how to use the “Scandinavian Flick” in a car? Unfortunately we had to wait towards the end of the day to start learning how to pendulum turn a car. The bulk of the day was spent more on mastering lessons taught to us the day before, which was learning to use left foot braking to rotate the car and steer into the direction of the skid. Only this time we had to do it at a faster pace. This all led up to my favorite drill of the day.
A cone setup on muddy ground was the foundation for the pendulum turn exercise. “All you have to do is carry enough speed, look ahead to where you want to brake, lift off the gas, turn right, blip the throttle while looking at the apex, blip the brake while looking at the exit, throttle out” explained our instructor Wyatt.
One of the most difficult challenges on Day 2 was getting the timing right for the “flick” exercise. Knowing when to brake to start rotation, when to apply the right amount of steering input to control slide, and knowing where you wanted the car to end up was challenging. The good news is we ran this drill enough times to get consistently good. At the end of the day, I felt comfortable making right or left hand turns using the notorious “flick”.
Day – 3 – Perfecting Techniques
Day 3 was filled with more in-car practice time, which led to the most challenging portion thus far, the school’s basic rally course. This was exciting and nerve racking at the same time. Unforgiving thick trees and unusually deep rocky ditches on certain corners meant making a mistake could hurt a little. To get us prepared, the instructors setup drills that got us prepared for course. Drills included our normal drills we ran through on previous days and our newest one, drifting through a blind corner. Didn’t seem too hard to do, but the instructors had a little surprise up their sleeve.
Trying to test our reflexes, the instructors would place a barrel (“random cow” in the middle road is what instructors called it) on different locations on the blind corner leaving just enough room to go around without hitting it. The challenge was to find the open path through as quickly as possible in order to rotate the car into position. Sounds more complicated then it really is but during the drill everything seemed to be second nature. With that said, out of the 4 -6 runs I went through, I managed to hit the barrel/cow a number of times.
Day 4 – Mastering Techniques
Day 4 focused more daytime in-car. With fewer students, the five remaining students (including myself) got to choose the preferred car of choice (Audi Quattro) and run continual drills for long periods of time with and without an instructor. This of course improved our ability as a class and allowed the instructors to confidently allow us to run on the advanced course.
The advance course is longer in distance compared to what we were on prior and most importantly has a portion that goes uphill with a drop at the top that could hurt if a car should go over. This is all followed by a steep downhill that merges into the original basic course we practiced on the day prior. The advance course allows the car to carry more speed and heavily relies on all techniques learned over the past 3 days. Now was the time to show how well you were paying attention.
With a couple of instruction laps done it was time to get behind the wheel. Going through the course during the first bit was business as usual since it was part of the basic course we practiced on earlier, it was the up hill portion that got the heart rate going. Going uphill as fast as you can in a bouncy beat-up Audi wasn’t the issue, it was the fact that I was building enough speed in order to drift at the top of what felt like Mount Everest with a 1000 foot drop (it really wasn’t that bad) and making sure the timing was good enough to make it through alive. Luckily I managed to go through without a scratch. Coming downhill required more concentration with steering inputs and being gentle with the brake. Towards the bottom we came down to familiar territory, taking us through what I thought was the fastest lap time the school has ever seen. Later the instructors were quick to dub me slower then their grandmothers, which meant they were very jealous of my school speed record.
All kidding aside, the day ended with big smiles on everyone’s faces. There was a tremendous amount to learn from this school and I was amazed how they were able to teach us with the amount of time available.
The skills learned from this school really boosted up my car control confidence. What used to be scary situations on track now have become great opportunities to use tools from my new car control toolbox. Lap times on average came down by 2 seconds and my conformability within the car has risen to a new high. The trick is to balance all of this to make sure overconfidence doesn’t enter the picture.
If car control is lacking for you, then you will be surprised by the results after attending Team O’Neal.
In part 5, I wanted to spend the time to take care of parts of the body that needed TLC to bring itself back to “new” like condition. The areas I focused more on where the under body, engine bay, wheel wells, and interior. I also wanted to add something different to the car that isn’t noticeable until the hood is popped. Can you guess what I did?
Yeah I know, it’s not really a “Jun” motor, but it really doesn’t matter. The new paint scheme looks nice and different, which is a big plus.
Moving into the interior section, I got a little suede happy and decided to cover the dash with suede. I also purchased brand new black carpet to match the dash. Overkill? Maybe, but in the end I think it will definitely look nice with Recaro Evo seats installed.
In the next part, all the mechanical elements will be installed. Hopefully we will be able to start the beast soon… Check back for an update!
Whenever you are looking to build a monster of a car, you have to start with the heart. The heart is the center of any project build and in our case our heart is a 2.2 liter balance of performance and reliability. More specifically, a GSC Power-Division 2.2L XR-1.7 4G63T short block. Thanks to Westboro Mitsubishi, we were able to obtain a brand new 4G63 MIVEC motor to hand over to the master mind behind GSC’s XR-1.7 motor package, Greg Caloudas, to begin over evolution of 8 to 8.5.
GSC’s motor package isn’t a basic bolt on power upgrade. This is a complete package offered to serious owner’s looking to get the most out of the 4G63 without compromises. Specific features include:
- New Mitsubishi OEM 4G63 Short Block and piston squirters.
- Power-Division 4340 Billet Crankshaft (31 pounds, 94mm Stroke) knife edged and balanced
- Power-Division Custom Forged I-Beam Connecting Rods for 1.7 Rod Ratio
- CP Pistons 85.5mm Bore, 9310 Wrist Pins, (10.0:1, 9.5:1, 8.5:1 Compression). We went with 9:5:1.
- Clevite Tri Metal Main Rod and Thrust Bearings
- Power-Division Race Balance Shaft kit
- Power-Division Race Main Stud Kit
A nice drool list for a bottom end, which means we couldn’t skimp out on the head. Starting off with a stock Evolution 9 MIVEC head, we added GSC’s S2 cams and a complete valve train upgrade from Supertech. A conservative head for a great motor build.
With the motor sorted out, it was time to match a new turbo kit with the performance capability of the XR-1.7. Cue in Boost Logic’s SC 61 turbo kit. Boost Logic is new to the Evolution world, but have a big reputation for making gobs of power in the Supra market. Their SC 61 turbo kit shows right away the proof in the power making pudding, especially with features that compare to what the more expensive kits have for less money. Features include:
- Ceramic Heat Coated SS304 Tubular Manifold w/ true merge collector(1/2″ Thick flanges)
- Tial 44mm Wastegate
- SS304 Dump Tube
- PTE SC50 T04E DBB Turbo w/ vband outlet
- Boost Logic Water Line Kit(assembled with Aeroquip pushlock fittings)
- 3″ SS304 Vband Downpipe
- 3″ SS304 Vband Midpipe w/ flex joint(Bolts to stock catalytic converter)
- 3″ Aluminum Intake Pipe 3″ K&N Filter
- 2.5″ Mandrel Bent Aluminum Intercooler Pipe
- 3 Ply Silicone Hoses and SS Hose Clamps
- Boost Logic Oil Feed and Return Kit(Assembled with high quality SS line and AN fittings)
- All nuts and bolts needed for installation
- 10″ High Flow Fan
Installation of the entire setup was complex and will require professional help. With our lack of wrenching skills we opted to go with pros to get everything installed correctly. Atlantic Motorsports was the shop we went with to get the final installation done. Being a MIVEC conversion, we had to grab a spare Evolution 9 main harness (engine harness) in order to get it all plugged up with our AEM EMS (we had to purchase a new unit to control MIVEC). The conversion isn’t rocket science but does require a large portion of time to make sure all the details are taken care of.
With the basic installation out of the way, the proper motor break-in procedure needed to be performed: 2 heat cycles, then an oil change, then a low boost break-in, 200 miles of driving, and finally another oil change. Atlantic Motorsports then put their focus on tuning the beast. With a few clicks on the laptop and a ton of dyno pulls, the car was ready for action. Final Power Output: 498 whp & 399.3 ft-lb @ 23psi.
Of course street testing is fairly limited when testing peak performance. Our intentions for this test was to bring out any reliability issues, lower rpm performance issues, or anything else worth mentioning that impact everyday use. After our 3 days of street testing, a couple of items did come up:
- Noticeable turbo lag with larger turbo vs. stock. Full boost came on closer to 4,000 rpm. The motor definitely helped reduce turbo lag, but when you are using a larger turbo, lag is a common issue that is difficult to combat. A smaller turbo will definitely cure this issue, which Boost Logic can provide within their SC 50 kit.
- Maintaining speed limit and traction under boost. The power is tremendous enough to break loose the tires, which requires a bit of driving skill to keep under control.
- With the S2 cams, idle is a little rough but tolerable. More time spent on the tune could smooth things out more.
With this amount of power at our control, the thought of being able to over take anything on the road was empowering.
Our favorite place to test. On track, we were able to start pushing the envelope of power to see how fast this new package was. With a set of Nitto NT-01’s mounted and at full temp, we loosened the leash and hammered down the throttle. At full throttle the car pushed our stomachs towards the back of our brains as we reached our 8,000 rpm limit. Going through each gear, the once mild manor Evolution 8 was no more. Full attention was needed to keep the car inline with counter steer and throttle input. This beast was serious and we needed to respect it. Entry and apex of each turn proved to be easy compared to the exit. As soon as throttle was introduced into the party, the dam breaking surge of power would be too much for the level of grip and our abilities as drivers. On long straight-aways the immense power propelled the Evo into supercar like state of top speed uncovering issues within our aero package (we had none!). Realizing the insanity of the situation, the most logical step would have been to dial back boost and possibly switch to a smaller turbo size. With each lap clicking by, the once logical idea slowly slipped further out of memoryville.
Our track day ended with grin’s on our faces, bbq’d front abs sensors, blown rear shocks, and an appreciation for having a chance to drive such a car on track.
Did we have to do this modification? No. Was it worth it? Yes! The XR-1.7 engine package is a phenomenal modification through and through. We have logged in over 5,000 miles of abuse without fail. With more time spent on the tune and possibly a smaller turbo, the car could be more useable for street and track use. Until then we will continue to suffer with the epic amount of power and god like command of the street and of course, the track.
An inspirational story for those in the automotive industry.
By T. Foster Jones
Try to picture the swoosh before the shoe, the apple before the, well, Apple.
This is the story of a business that began as a logo. There was no building. There was no merchandise. Heck, there was no idea of what kind of merchandise there would be if there was merchandise. Just a logo, a name and a man with an entrepreneurial dream.
The man is Costco member Warren Tracy. The logo is a wrench-wielding hand with a bandage on the index finger. The name is The Busted Knuckle Garage. And the dream? To run a business he could call his own. In sort of a “design it and they will come” approach, he created a successful business, backwards.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, just as Tracy did. Let’s dial back 13 or so years, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a place accessible only by foot, by raft or on the back of
a mule. It’s hardly the place you would expect automotive inspiration to strike. Yet it did, and, as long as we’re using automotive terms, the inspiration that struck Tracy came in reverse.
In 1996, Tracy had been living on and working as manager of the Phantom Ranch guest ranch for about 10 years. A selfdescribed “gear head,” who had started twisting wrenches as a teen, he woke up one night with a vision. He made a quick sketch of an injured hand holding a wrench and then went back to sleep.
For someone with an entrepreneurial itch, someone who understood the power of branding from his experience marketing Phantom Ranch, the doodle presented something of a conundrum. What did it represent? It haunted him, nagged at him. He eventually trademarked it, but a year later the logo was still dangling there, its meaning just out of reach.
It was in 1997 that Tracy, whose career path has also included mortgage banking, delivering yachts and operating a bicycle shop, met a man making faux-antique distressed
wooden signs. He decided to commission some featuring his design, along with the name “The Busted Knuckle Garage,” and posted an ad in an auto magazine.
“We sold 100 the first month,” Tracy says. Encouraged, Tracy struck a deal shortly thereafter with an herbologist, a regular ranch patron. She had developed a muscle-easing salve she was looking to sell, something that Tracy thought would be perfect for an aching mechanic. They marketed it under the Busted Knuckle brand, and “it just took off,”Tracy says. “We knew we were on to something.” What the logo was and what the logo meant were beginning to come together.
Tracy quit his job at Phantom Ranch. He mortgaged his house, ran his credit cards to the limit. He sold the cars and motorcycles he had built and collected. He marketed more skin-care products. The logo made its appearance on signs and T-shirts and hats. Tracy began attending car shows and automotive supply stores across the country, hawking the brand and the growing line of products.
Combining the marketing and smallbusiness lessons he’d learned from his various occupations, over the past 10 years Tracy has built The Busted Knuckle Garage into a lifestyle
brand that sells more than 250 different items—from clothing, garage and home décor and gifts to collectibles and car-care products—to fellow wrench twisters.
Through direct sales at the Busted Knuckle Web site (www.bustedknucklegarage.com), automotive catalogs and national chain stores, Tracy, who finally opened an actual brick-and-mortar retail location in 2005 in Prescott, Arizona, has created something unique.
While the logo and the brand became a business for Tracy, they represent myriad things to his customers, resonating with everyone from hard-core mechanics to wannabes. He built the business around what the logo meant, rather than the other way around.
And in a final twist, guys aren’t the only ones buying Busted Knuckle products. Tracy says that 70 percent of retail sales come from women buying gifts for men. “Who is my market?” he asks. He’s still at a loss to explain. “We let customers define it, as it relates to their experience.”